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Grill Time, Italian Style: Piadini with Giada and Arneis
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Giada’s Piadini and Arneis

It’s summer, and for millions of people who would rather eat cold cereal or pudding packs from June until September rather than flip on the kitchen stove, it’s also grill season. The influx of hot temperatures brings a lot of fun things, but for us it signals our annual summer recipe scavenger hunt, and this winner is by the queen of Italian cuisine herself, Giada De Laurentiis.

We’re freaks for grilled pizza. Something about the charred, chewy crust and simple yet succulent toppings scarfed down while lazing about in the great outdoors is just magic, and this fontina-prosciutto flatbread is a brilliant example.

Regarding the recipe, Giada herself says,

Piadini is a lot like a pizza, except that the crust doesn't rise and it's typically cooked on a grill to give it a nice, smoky flavor and crunchy crust.

You can top a piadina with anything you like. This sauceless combination is very typical of northern Italy, where piadini are especially popular.”

The Wine – Arneis

It would only make sense, then, that we go to a wine similarly typical of northern Italy, and in this case I can only go with one of my very favorites: Arneis. Originating from Piedmont, this white varietal is somewhat rare in the United States but for an assuming grape it packs quite the flavorful punch – not surprising considering Arneis literally translates as “little rascal.” If that’s not a ringing endorsement for a little summer fun, what is?

Arneis is dry, full-bodied wine that often surprises the uninitiated with how much character it actually has. It’s fresh and floral on the nose, with hints of melon and citrus and sometimes a bit of almond or pepper, all of which will mingle beautifully with the piadini’s gently charred crust and sweet/salty toppings. The crisp, tongue-tingling acidity and lack of oak make this wine ideal even for the hottest summer months, but there’s enough body to hold up to the rich ricotta and fontina cheeses.

The recipe, courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis and the powers that be at the Food Network can be found here, along with other fantastic summer recipes and cooking tips, but  we’ve also reprinted it for your reading pleasure:

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus extra for seasoning
  • 1 stick butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest (from about 2 small lemons)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces fontina cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
  • 4 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil

Directions

Combine the flour, baking soda and 1 teaspoon salt in the bowl of an upright mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until incorporated, about 2 minutes. With the machine running, slowly add 10 to 12 tablespoons water until the mixture forms a dough around the hook. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Form into disk shapes and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Place a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each piece of dough into an 8-to-10-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Brush each circle with the extra-virgin olive oil and grill for 4 minutes each side. Remove the piadina from the grill to cool slightly.

Combine the ricotta cheese and lemon zest in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Spread each piadina with 1/2 cup of the ricotta mixture. Sprinkle the fontina cheese evenly over the ricotta cheese. Arrange 2 prosciutto slices on top of the cheeses. Cut each piadina into 8 wedges and transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with the chopped basil.

To create your perfect summer pairing, pick up a bottle of Arneis via the links below.

Buy: 

Vietti Roero Arneis 2013, $19.99

Bruno Giacosa Roero Arneis 2013, $28.99

Happy grilling!!

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